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Bosnian Serbs Pleaded not Guilty on Amended Indictment

Tribunal Update 92: The Last Two Weeks in The Hague (31 August-12 September, 1998)
By IWPR ICTY

The new indictment significantly differs from the earlier one, in which the first co-accused was Slobodan Miljkovic, called "Lugar", who was killed in a restaurant shoot-out in Serbia recently. In the meantime, his lawyer handed in to the Office of the Prosecutor a voluminous file (labelled "Lugar's papers" in Serbia), which allegedly points to the involvement of the Serbian police in the crimes of which Miljkovic was accused.

Due to such unauthorised cooperation with the Tribunal and its Prosecutor, criminal charges were brought against Miljkovic's lawyer in Belgrade. Miljkovic's name has still not been taken off the list of the accused: the OTP's official declaration on the issue is awaited.

The amended Bosanski Samac indictment severs the case of the three defendants from the case of other three accused (including, alongside Miljkovic, Blagoje Simic and Stevan Todorovic) from the original indictment. While the first indictment dealt only with the ethnic cleansing of Bosniaks and Croats from the municipality of Bosanski Samac (some 17,000 were "cleansed"); the amended indictment covers the same process in the municipality of Odzak (where allegedly 22,5000 cleansed).

The process is qualified in Count 1 of the amended indictment as the persecution (of non-Serb civilians) on political, racial or religious grounds. In the original indictment, this is qualified as a deportation and transfer, which is now Count 2-3 of the amended indictment.

Finally, the amended indictment charges Milan Simic with participation in beatings and torture of five Muslim and Croat victims (only one victim was mentioned in the original indictment). Milan Simic was granted a provisional release on the health grounds by the Trial Chamber this March, with an obligation to come to The Hague to attend all pre-trial proceedings at his own cost. Simic fulfilled this obligation and appeared before the court in a wheelchair on 3 September.

The beginning of the trial has not been scheduled, since, after the indictment was amended, the defence once again has 60 days at its disposal for its preliminary motions.